SOLEMNITY OF THE LORD’S ASCENSION
(White) Cycle C/Year I (May 28, 2017)
Acts 1:1-11/Eph 1:17-23/Mt 28:16-20
There is a growing tendency in our secular world to feel and consider God as if God is up there in the sky and has little thing to do with our personal and social activities here on earth. God is believed to be existent and the one who created us, yet this God has gone far away from us, leaving us to be self-sufficient. This deistic outlook evident in our society in many ways affects the belief in God and the lifestyle of the common people. The people become less participative in the religious rites and traditions of the churches. Many of them attend the church’s activities especially the Sunday mass not so much because they want to offer themselves to God and sanctify themselves but more so because they simply want to fulfill their Sunday obligation and continue with the habit or the tradition. Some do not even enter the church except for a very especial and rare occasion. Still others become indifferent to the church’s activities even though, if questioned regarding their belief in God and their religion, they would directly answer that they believe in God and that they are catholic Christians. Still, they do not participate in the religious activities and the Sunday mass because they prioritize other things.
The problem with these deistic attitudes is that, not only deism is already a wrong concept of God but also it leads to a worse kind of belief regarding God, that is, agnosticism and worst still it can lead to atheism. The agnostics believe in the existence of a transcendent God who can never reveal himself to man. They also believe that man cannot know something about God. This leads to the indifference to God and religion. The atheists, on the other hand, do not believe that God exists. They consider man as an end to himself and end of all the activities in the world and that after death there is no afterlife so much so that he should live his life in a continuous enjoyment with all the earthly pleasures, resulting to the craving for money, power and fame just to satisfy his worldly longings.
Our problem regarding deism, agnosticism and atheism is the problem of the crisis of faith. With our very secular and materialistic society, man finds it hard to concentrate on something spiritual, particularly on God that is unseen and unfelt. The growing devotion of the people to the images of the saints and of our Lord has its coupled negative manifestation of the less and less capacity of people to pray directly without the help of images. Perhaps we may blame this phenomenon to the lack of Christian witnesses especially on the part of the ordained ministers and consecrated brethren. But we can never deny the fact of our ignored if not forgotten responsibility to educate our children regarding religious matter. This is because we ourselves have never been good testimony to our children concerning our faith.
Truly, God is good and He loves us so much that He created the whole world and us to share with us His divine life and eternal bliss. But contrary to the deistic point of view, God has never abandoned us. As a matter of fact, He did everything to make the chosen people discover Him as the true God and consider Him as their only God whom they should believe in, adore, respect and obey. He even sent His only begotten son, Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sake and to rise again on the third day to become the Lord of the entire universe.
This Sunday we commemorate the Ascension of our Lord. Jesus has truly risen from the dead and is ascending to his heavenly Father to sit at the latter’s right hand. In this ascension of our Lord, the temptation to think that God is leaving us is not at all far from the reality. There are persons who may think that Christ’s ascension is even a proof that God has left us and has nothing to do with us anymore. Yet for us Christians, the Lord ascends to heaven not to leave us but even to stay closer to us in an especial way. Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit who will then make possible his indwelling within our heart and soul and who will give us the power to do the will of God and to live our Christian faith.
Jesus’ ascension is the completion of the glorification that God the Father is giving Him due to His complete obedience to the Father that led to the salvation of man. Consequently, this ascension is still related to our salvation. Jesus ascends to save us, to intercede for us, to shower us with His graces, to prepare a place for us in the heavenly abode, and to help us also ascend to His and our heavenly Father. In other words, Jesus’ ascension is a manifestation of God’s love for us. He has never abandoned us but has continuously stayed close with us to protect us from all evil and to make us children of God. Christ’s ascension makes possible His discreet yet real, meaningful and useful presence of love and care for all of us.
As Christians, the ascension of our Lord calls us to work for the salvation of the whole world. Before going up to heaven, He sent His disciples to proclaim the need for repentance and forgiveness. Jesus came to this world sent by the Father to die on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins that led to our eternal salvation. We are forgiven of our sins through the merits of Jesus, but we still need to ask for forgiveness. We need to repent of our sins because repentance makes us sharers with the divine forgiveness and consequently with the divine dignity of being children of God. The Lord’s ascension is a call for us to repent and be converted; at the same time, it is a call for us to proclaim to others the message of God’s love for us and His continuous presence within us. It calls us to be living witnesses of the unselfish sacrifice of our Lord and of the graces brought by this sacrifice. It calls us to live the Christian life of living and active faith in the God who has done everything and is doing all just for us to be one with Him in His eternal bliss.
We ask the intercession of our blessed mother, the Virgin Mary. She believes in the ascension of our Lord and has shared with it through her own assumption to heaven. May we ask her to help us remain committed to our Lord and never to doubt his love and presence in each of us. May she also help us proclaim to the whole world with our words and deeds: Jesus Christ lives; He ascends to heaven and continues to stay with us. Mary, help us. Amen.